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Former Rebel Leader Fears for Accords After Another Shooting

November 4, 1993

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) _ The man who led the fight against El Salvador’s U.S.-backed government says recent attacks on former guerrillas have jeopardized the 1992 accords that ended the country’s civil war.

The most recent attack came Wednesday, when three gunmen ambushed Gabriel Quintanilla outside his home in San Jorge, 95 miles east of the capital, said Joaquin Villalobos, head of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front.

″This could lead to a critical situation,″ Villalobos told reporters. He said the accords would fall appart unless President Alfredo Cristiani acts to stop rightist death squads blamed for recent killings.

Two former guerrillas have been killed in the past week, and a total of 24 have been slain by unidentified gunmen since the U.N.-brokered accords were signed in January 1992, ending 12 years of civil war.

More than 75,000 people were killed during the war between leftist rebels and a succession of U.S.-supported governments. Many of the civilians were killed by right-wing death squads linked to the military.

Quintanilla, a professor at San Miguel University and FMLN political coordinator for San Miguel province, was hospitalized in very serious condition, Villalobos said Wednesday.

Villalobos blamed the killing and others on gunmen hired by a small group of rightist businessmen.

He said the wealthy elite were seeking to retain the political influence they had before the peace accords legalized the FMLN, allowing former rebels to run for the legislature and presidency in elections next year.

In Chalatenango, 45 miles north of the capital, activists began a hunger strike this week to protest the renewed violence. ″The country has returned to institutionalized crime,″ they shouted Wednesday.

The group is led by a Hector Martinez, a former rebel commander; Jon Cortina, a prominent priest; and Orlando Sandoval, a Salvadoran lawmaker. They vowed not to eat until the United Nations acts to end the violence.

U.N. observers last month reported a rise in death-squad killings and incidents of torture. Local journalists and others with leftist contacts have reported receiving death threats.

Hernan Heleno Castro, 36, a former senior rebel commander, was shot and killed Oct. 30, days after the U.N. report. Francisco Velis, a former rebel commander, was shot and killed Oct. 25 as he took his 1-year-old daughter to a nursery school in San Salvador.

No group has claimed responsibility for the killings.

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